How To Make Your Shih Tzu Happy
I don’t know about you, but it breaks my heart to see either of my boys lying stretched out with chin on front paws, that sad, bored look on their faces. Then when they let out that long, bored, sigh of a breath together with the shrug of the shoulders, I know I just have to do something to entertain them, to make the situation a little more interesting for them.
So I decided to write down everything that will show you how to make your shih tzu happy. There is nothing like the pleasure you get from seeing your little one prancing around with a smile on their face and their tail wagging enthusiastically like a windscreen wiper in a severe rainstorm. It sends a tingle down your spine!
Keep Your Shih Tzu Well Groomed
If your shih tzu’s coat is allowed to grow haphazardly, become dirty and tangled with mats, he is not going to be very happy with the resulting discomfort. If his ears are dirty and infected, the irritation will be driving him nuts! Excess hair between the paw pads and over long nails will make walking difficult, even sore and painful.
It varies from shih tzu to shih tzu, but a visit to the groomers for a complete makeover will be necessary every four to six weeks. Either that, or you can learn to do it yourself. With the right tools, it’s not too difficult a job for you and your shih tzu to learn to do together.
You will still need to perform some maintenance in between major grooming sessions to keep your shih tzu neat and healthy. Brushing should be a daily routine to keep the coat free of mats and tangles. Complete baths are recommended routinely every two weeks; any more frequently and you risk damaging your shih tzu’s coat and skin by washing away the essential oils. It is okay, though, to give the occasional extra bath should he have got himself really dirty.
The hair in the ears and between the paw pads will also need trimming, along with the nails, at least once between grooming sessions. After trimming the ear hair, clean the ears with a cotton ball and pet ear cleaner drops. Carefully keep the hair around the eyes trimmed so that it doesn’t dip into water and feeding bowls, and keep the anal hair trimmed for hygiene reasons.
Being Well Fed – The Root Of Contentment
Your shih tzu will not be content unless he is fed properly. Two appropriately portioned meals per day (three for a puppy) will be adequate. Try to avoid big brand supermarket labels and go for either the new wave of wholesome dog foods that are appearing, or make your own wholesome meals from scratch. Whether you use dry food, wet food or a mixture of both is a matter of choice between you and your shih tzu, but either way check the ingredients first.
Avoid giving the same meal time after time. Vary the ingredients as much as you can to prevent food boredom.
You can give occasional treats between meals but don’t overdo it. Although in my experience shih tzu aren’t greedy dogs, you still need to guard against over feeding. An obese shih tzu is not a happy shih tzu.
Make sure you change the water in the drinking bowls at least once a day. Empty out the old water, rinse and wipe the bowl before refilling with fresh water.
Your Shih Tzu Is Happiest When With You
Shih tzu were bred as companion dogs and they are genuinely never happier than when with their owner or interacting with their owner, the one that they see as the Alpha of the pack. So, be with your shih tzu as much as you can and interact with him as much as you can, when he’s not sleeping, of course!
Try to take your shih tzu out for two walks per day of at least twenty minutes in duration. He will love parolling and marking out his regular walks, sniffing out familiar smells. Having said that, though, he will also love the variety of a new walk where he can discover new smells, textures and unfamiliar dogs to socialize with. So try to fit one or two new walks in every week.
If you are able to, take him to the beach to experience the sand and the sea. Also, shih tzu go absolutely crazy over fresh snow, so whenever you get the chance, seek out the snow!
As well as the regular walks, when you go out take your shih tzu with you if it is possible. Don’t do this, though, if it will involve leaving him alone in the car. Dogs left in cars can quickly develop possibly fatal hyperthermia, so in this case it is better to leave him at home.
Set aside some time for some quality playtime to spend with your shih tzu. Some open space in your backyard, if you have it, or over the park is fine. For example, you can play hunt the treat, chasing games or fetch the ball or stick. I do the fetch the ball thing with my boys but somehow it gets turned around and I do all of the fetching!
When at home with your shih tzu, give him plenty of attention, petting and cuddles. When he lays next to you, flat on his back with his legs in the air, give him a good tummy rubbing session. This will definitely put a smile upon his face.
Further interaction with your shih tzu can be had by training him to do things like “sit”, “stay” and “come”. Despite his inherent stubbornness, he is happy to do things to please you, so why not train him to obey these simple commands that may keep him out of trouble later? Use the the reward system to let him know when he gets it right. That is, when he gets it right pet him and make a fuss over him, or give him a small treat, or both. Under no circumstances punish him if he gets it wrong.
For more detailed training tips, my friends at TrainPetDog have a comprehensive email course dedicated to training your shih tzu. It’s completely free to sign up.
Keep The Mind Occupied
To prevent boredom setting in when you are busy doing other things or not there at all, provide your shih tzu with plenty of toys to play with. These should be a variety of soft toys, interactive toys and balls small enough for him to pick up with his mouth, but not so small as to swallow it.
The toys that you insert treats into and your dog has to work out how to get at them are particularly good for exercising your dog’s mind. A half dozen or more soft toys scattered around the house is good, although your shih tzu will always pick one in particular as his favorite to take to his bed.
If you have a puppy, get him a teething ring or other chew toy and encourage him to use that to ease the soreness of his gums rather than taking it out on your furniture or footwear. As soon as he has reached the stage where he has finished teething, chewing, mouthing and nipping must be discouraged.
Shih tzu instinctively love the safe, cozy feeling of being inside a den, so either make one for yours out of cushions or buy one of those beds that resembles a house or kennel. It seems that the narrower the opening is, the better. My boys squash the entrance down if they think it is too big.
Keeping Your Shih Tzu Healthy
If your shih tzu has suddenly started to limp, carefully check first to see if any foreign matter such as burrs or seeds have become trapped between the paw pads, otherwise at the first sign of any injury or illness, please consult with your vet straight away. It is better to be safe than sorry and sometimes swift action can be vital.
Try to set your home up to be free of insects, fleas and allergens. Dogs have a hard time with flea infestations or allergic skin reactions and are helpless to do anything about them. With modern manufacturing techniques, it’s relatively inexpensive and simple to fit mosquito nets at all entrances and windows these days. In areas of high pollen counts, try to keep windows closed during times of high activity or use an air purifier with a hypoallergenic filter. There are some very efficient portable models available now. Washing your shih tzu’s bedding regularly in hypoallergenic laundry products will also help.
Dogs do not understand the dangers of man made items, so make sure your home doesn’t have any dangerous furniture or appliances installed that your shih tzu could receive an injury from. Likewise, don’t leave any dangerous tools or other items lying around as an accident waiting to happen. Ensure your shih tzu doesn’t have access to any areas of the house where he could be in peril.
Shih Tzu Are Happy Dogs
Shih tzu are generally happy dogs when well looked after. Follow most of these tips and you will have one extremely content bundle of fun willingly staying by your side. Basically, your dog will sense your emotions and react to them, so if you are happy, then he is likely to be happy too. I know a lot of the information that I have written in this article is just common sense, but sometimes it helps to have all the relevant information written down in on place for easy reference.
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